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Bill would provide higher honors for Hmong vet burials

WASHINGTON – Hmong and Laotian veterans who fought on behalf of the United States during the Vietnam War could be buried in U.S. national cemeteries under a bill now being drafted by Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno.

The bill would extend to the Hmong and Laotian vets the same burial rights now enjoyed by U.S. veterans as well as Filipinos who had fought against the Japanese during World War II. During the Vietnam War, the Hmong in particular had assisted U.S. Special Forces and CIA personnel.

The bill in its draft form would cover Hmong who had “served in support of the United States, including support of any covert action of the United States,” in Laos between Feb. 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975. The bill’s final language is still being reviewed by the House legislative counsel’s office.

More than 50,000 Hmong are now estimated to live in the central San Joaquin Valley, having arrived since the 1975 collapse of the Laotian government.